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Scripture Study: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

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By Marc Massery (May 24, 2018)
To find the readings for this weekend, click here.

Sunday, May 27 — Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Dt 4:32-34, 39-40
• Ps 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
• Rom 8:14-17
• Mt 28:16-20

Take out your magnifying-glass, don your deerstalker caps, and perch your briar pipes between your lips. This Sunday, we investigate the central mystery of our Catholic faith, the origin of all created things — the Holy Trinity.

It's not your classic whodunit. But the Trinity constitutes "the source of all other mysteries" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234).

In the Gospel reading this Sunday, Christ speaks His final words to His disciples, revealing the most important clue for solving this Trinitarian mystery.

He says, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Mt 28:18-20).

The Facts
Everything in existence reflects the relationship between the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. To find out how this mystery affects us, we need to start with the facts.

After all, Sherlock Holmes says, "It is a capital mistake to theorize in advance of the facts."

So let's begin with a most elementary fact: Things communicate. In other words, things make images of themselves.

A large stone tumbles down a rocky ledge and makes an impression in the dirt below. This impression is an imperfect image of the original stone.

A pine tree drops from its branches a spikey cone, which slips a seed into the fertile earth. In time, this seed grows into another pine tree. This new pine tree is an imperfect image of the original.

A papa bear has relations with a mama bear. This relationship produces a cub. The new baby bear is an imperfect image of the originals.

Of course, humans make images of themselves, too. Each generation gives birth to the next. But we have more going on within us than the animal kingdom does.

God endowed each of us with an intellect and a will. We can, therefore, produce imperfect images of ourselves through word, deed, gesture, art, and in many other ways. This article you're reading, for example, communicates an imperfect image of my intellect. But these words reveal just a fraction of what has been running through my cluttered mind — providing an imperfect reflection of me.

This principle of image-making affects everyone and everything we do. In fact, the world revolves around who relates to whom and how.

This capacity for things and persons to make images of themselves — to communicate — points to the communal relationship of the Holy Trinity.

While finite things and persons produce imperfect images of themselves, God the Almighty Father generates a perfect, complete reproduction of Himself — His eternal, divine Son.

Remember the Nicene Creed.

God's perfect generation, His eternal, divine Son, existed before all ages. In fact, God reproduced Himself so perfectly in the Son that we say Christ is "begotten, not made," consisting of the very same substance as the Father, "true God from true God."

These perfect images, God and the Son, contemplate each other's perfection. The bond resulting from this relationship reveals the third person of the Holy Trinity — the Holy Spirit.

We can observe this type of Trinitarian relationship throughout creation.

You are. You think (with your intellect). You love (with your will).

Still, you have only one nature.

I am. I think (with my intellect). I love (with my will). I have only one nature.

The three are one.

Broken in three

Having fallen from grace, though, we exist, we understand, and we love imperfectly.

Every time we sin, we willingly rebel from our perfect communion with the Holy Trinity.

It says in the first reading, "You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper" (Dt 4:40). God's will for us — which includes following His Commandments and avoiding sin at all costs — may seem difficult, even harsh at times. But remember: We have broken intellects and an imperfect understanding of the truth.

So we must trust. We must believe that God's holy will is love and mercy itself. We must walk by faith, not by sight.

It says in the Gospel, "The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted" (Mt 28:16).

Most of us Christians worship — we go through the motions of our faith. But like the 11 disciples, many live joyless lives filled with fear and doubt.

Doubt and fear arise from a common misconception: that God is not good. Therefore, we often try to take our happiness into our own hands, sinning and separating ourselves from Him even further, which only leads to more unhappiness.

For this reason, Christ spent much of the Gospels confronting the doubts and fears of His followers. In fact, Christ died, rose from the dead, and gave us His Holy Spirit just so that we could one day behold the glory of the Trinity ourselves.

As it was in the beginning ...

So the Holy Trinity reveals not only how the world goes round, but also provides the means through which the Godhead restores order to a broken universe.

But we must allow God to bring our fractured nature back to how He originally intended it. He won't complete our restoration until we reach Heaven. Still, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, so our healing starts here.

That's why we are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That's why we begin every prayer making the Sign of the Cross in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That's why we safeguard Church doctrine. In fact, the Church Fathers fought for years, making sure they accurately defined the nature of the Trinity.

To many, this doctrine of the Trinity may seem unimportant, strange, even improbable.

But as the greatest fictitious detective said, "When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

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